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Partitioning service encounters into touchpoints to enhance quality

Donelda S. McKechnie (HULT International Business School, Dubai, United Arab Emirates)
Jim Grant (HULT International Business School, Dubai, United Arab Emirates)
Fatema Shabbir Golawala (Monalisa LLC, Ajman, United Arab Emirates)

International Journal of Quality and Service Sciences

ISSN: 1756-669X

Article publication date: 5 July 2011




This paper aims to discuss partitioning an air travel service encounter into touchpoints according to elements and phases, which are depth and breadth, respectively, using the conceptual framework of Le Bel. The empirical findings further the dialogue about the service encounter construct.


A total of 12 distinctive touchpoints within the joining and intensive phases of any air travel service encounter are reviewed for importance using travel purpose and nationality as segmentation variables. Respondents participated through an online questionnaire and face‐to‐face approach from a fieldworker; they were not engaged in an air travel service encounter at the time of the study. Data analysis includes descriptive statistics, independent sample t‐tests and paired sample t‐tests where the latter considered a named airline from the region.


The findings indicate touchpoints to be sufficiently distinctive that partitioning a service encounter provides opportunities for quality improvements directed at customer satisfaction outcomes. Notably, greater importance is typically given to the intensive phase touchpoints than those in the joining phases thus placing more emphasis on activities within service encounters' simultaneous production/consumption. Touchpoint preference is evident for travel purpose and passenger nationality segmentation criteria. When an airline is named, respondents appear more discriminating about touchpoint quality compared to those in generic service encounters.


Academically, partitioning strengthens the links between the service encounter construct and service quality and provides additional information beyond expectations‐perceptions results. Industry value is derived for practitioner marketers when distinctive touchpoints are taken from a partitioned service encounter providing opportunities for segmenting and targeting consumers accordingly.



McKechnie, D.S., Grant, J. and Shabbir Golawala, F. (2011), "Partitioning service encounters into touchpoints to enhance quality", International Journal of Quality and Service Sciences, Vol. 3 No. 2, pp. 146-165.



Emerald Group Publishing Limited

Copyright © 2011, Emerald Group Publishing Limited

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